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Albany Park 'Problem Building' Plan Includes Apartments, Commercial

By Meryl Williams | December 5, 2014 9:54am | Updated on December 8, 2014 9:45am
 A developer has plans for a building at 3001 W. Lawrence Ave.
A developer has plans for a building at 3001 W. Lawrence Ave.
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DNAinfo/Meryl Williams

ALBANY PARK — Proposed zoning for a building at Sacramento and Lawrence could mean turning a downtrodden building around, as well as taking a few cars off the street.

The building on the southwest corner has long been known as a “problem building,” according to Dana Fritz, chief of staff for Ald. Deb Mell (33rd). However, it was recently purchased by Silver Property Group, which has plans to improve the building to include 30 rental units and some commercial space.

Fritz, speaking at a recent meeting organized by the 33rd Ward Office, said the alderman had "heard a lot of horror stories" from neighbors about the building at 3001 W. Lawrence Ave.

“I took a tour of the building on my own, literally, because all the doors were open and the locks were busted. It’s a courtyard building with five entrances, and every single one had a broken door," Fritz said.

"Graffiti was etched into the drywall and written on the banisters with markers. The smell was absolutely awful, just horrific. There were lots of broken windows, and fire alarms going off. It was one of the worst I’ve ever been in,” he said.

A meeting was set up with the owner and "the owner pulled us aside and said he’s selling the building,” said Fritz. “We thought that was a good idea.”

The sale to Silver Property Group went through this fall.

“We boarded up the broken windows and installed lights within a week,” said Ron Abrams of Silver Property. “We wanted to make it immediately safer for everyone.”

Silver is seeking a zoning change to create about 3,500-square-feet of first floor commercial space, 30 residential units, plus three indoor parking spots.

Silver Property Group aims to complete renovations within six months, including features such as central heat and AC in each unit, in-unit laundry facilities, granite kitchen countertops, and stainless steel appliances. The project would also include new windows and landscaping.

“We’re going to remove the cement in the courtyard and put in sidewalks,” said Abrams. “With the commercial [spaces], we’ll put up some new awnings and make it look more integrated.”

Nine tenants still remain in the building, however. Despite being offered incentives to vacate, they remain on the premises.

“We’re going to work around them,” said Abrams. “It’s going to be a lot harder, but these are the cards we’ve been dealt. They don’t have leases, but we have to abide by the eviction rules. Chicago has a very liberal tenant policy.”

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